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6 Creative Writing Activities for the ESL Classroom

Guest posts, Tips

The ESL classroom is a place where students learn, develop their language skills, and use their creativity and imagination. Learning a language is a process that requires different types of activities to be involved, for the student to truly progress. That’s why ESL students deal with speaking, reading, listening, and writing activities interchangeably. And, it’s the teacher’s job to make these activities as engaging and useful as possible.

When it comes to creative writing, teachers should look for creative activities that will keep the students interested and present. To help you give your students the best possible learning experience, we've put together a list of 6 creative writing activities for the ESL classroom. Check them out below.

1. Group Story Writing

If you have a classroom of reluctant writers, you might want to kick things off with a group exercise. Divide students into groups so that they can work together and help each other out.

Group story writing is a fun exercise that your students will love. All you need is an interesting picture showing something amusing and inspiring for each group. Once you give them the picture, ask them to:

  • - name the characters from the picture
  • - decide on their relationship
  • - come up with a story about the things happening in the picture e.g. why are they there, what are they talking about, how are they feeling…

Ask the students to take turns pitching ideas, and have one student in the group take notes. Once they define all the details, ask them to write a story based on the ideas they've previously shared.

Group work can be a challenge, but if you instruct it properly, your students will enjoy working together.

2. Five-Sentence Stories

To have your students engage in a writing task, you don't need to have them write a two-page essay. Exercises that seem simple can actually help them work harder and truly activate their language skills.

A five-sentence story is an exercise that requires the following:

  • - the students work individually
  • - they have 10 minutes to come up with a story
  • - the story needs to have an introduction, a climax, and an ending
  • - the story needs to be exactly five sentences long

The teacher can either provide a topic or let it be completely up to the students.

The students will struggle to summarize their entire idea into five sentences and will have to use all the language skills and knowledge they have. Plus, they'll enjoy listening to each other's fun short stories and seeing how everyone did.

3. Finish The Story

The following exercise is great for pair work since it can engage language-speaking separately from written assignments. Finish the story is quite simple:

  • - provide each pair of students with a beginning of a story
  • - it can be a newspaper article, a fairy tale, a letter, an email, or anything the students find interesting
  • - ask them to read it
  • - ask them to write the rest of the story and finish it the way they think it should finish

The students will be provided with a writing style sample that they'll need to follow and respect. They'll need to be imaginative and creative to finish the story with a bang and amuse the rest of the classroom.

4. Simplify the Text

This idea comes from HubSpot’s article “How to Train Your Brain to Write More Concisely” and their exercise Rewrite Wikipedia Paragraphs. While you don’t have to use Wikipedia as the source of exercise materials, you can use the same principles since it’s engaging and fun for the students.

Here's what you need to do:

  • - give your students a piece of content
  • - try choosing something they’re interested in and will enjoy reading
  • - ask them to read the whole text
  • - ask them to reduce it by 50%

So, if you gave them a 1200-word article about sustainability, ask them to reduce it to a 600-word article, without losing any important information.

This will teach them to write concisely and avoid redundancy, which is a key skill they'll need for business writing, college papers, case studies, or motivational letters. You can order case study writing online and use it as another writing resource for your EFL students, teaching them about research, investigation, and organizing information.

5. Chain Writing

Another great way to engage students in a group writing activity is to have them write a chain story together. Chain stories will have students enjoy their time spent in the ESL classroom, collaborating with their peers and working on a fun project together.

The principle is simple:

  • - the teacher takes a blank piece of paper and writes a writing prompt on it
  • - it can be anything that will get the story going, e.g. “It was dark and Jack was scared.” or “The sun was setting behind the hills.”
  • - The teacher passes the paper to the next student in line and asks them to add a sentence.
  • - Once they finish, they pass the paper on.

This can go on in circles until the story is finished and ready to be presented. Ask one of the students from the group to read the story and show the rest of the class the result of their group work.

6. Monologue Writing

Your EFL classroom must use diverse writing activities that allow students to constantly grow. Writing a monologue is a unique chance for them to exercise first-person writing and use their wittiness and creativity.

The teacher should first provide monologue examples for students to explore. Then, they’ll assign a character to each student. It could be:

  • - a famous person
  • - a former president
  • - a made-up person
  • - a member of the student’s family

The student needs to write a brief monologue and give this person a chance to speak up. They'll need to take care of the perspective and think of the exact words this person would use.

Final Thoughts

Creative writing is important for your students’ overall ESL skills, and you find the activities that will help them improve. The 6 creative exercises listed above will help you focus on the area of creative writing your students need help with the most.

Use this list as guidance or inspiration to make every ESL lesson successful.

Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.